Uncertainty hangs over the Astros catchers as health, inexperience and some offensive struggles lead us to look for a catcher as the team works to defend their World Series title.
With Brian McCann on the disabled list for the next 3-5 weeks, the Astros are looking over the market at catching options. They have a deep enough farm system to make one, maybe two trades if they get creative. Earlier, Eric Huysman gave you an idea of a trade including Ken Giles. However, trading for a catcher will be difficult with other teams looking for an upgrade.
If the Astros were to make a trade for a catcher, the Astros would be looking for three things.
1) Is that player a significant upgrade over what they have in McCann (when healthy) and Max Stassi?
2) How many years of control left for the player they trade for?
3) What type of trade package will it take to get the player?
Is Ramos a significant upgrade?
Ramos is at the top of the list in terms of offensive catchers. He carries a .291 average, with a .819 OPS and a 2.0 WAR. There is no doubt he would give a jolt to an offense seeking help. However, the Astros still boast one of the best lineups in baseball. So, do the hitting stats matter? Ramos is also an All-Star and the Rays are playing better.
In comparison, Stassi holds a .253 average, with a .807 OPS and 1.3 WAR. Although there is a difference in the two players, this is Stassi’s first full season at the major league level. We must also consider that when McCann is healthy, he provides great value at the plate. He is a career .263 hitter with a .791 OPS and a 31.4 WAR. So, if McCann returns healthy, is there a definite improvement behind the plate?
By the Contracts
The biggest kicker in a deal for Wilson Ramos is he becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season. Stassi is under contract until 2022. McCann is also a free agent after the season. So, do the Astros want a rental? This would contradict their pattern of acquiring key players without any sort of control of contract.
But, there is one more kicker to keep in mind. Would the Astros be okay with carrying three catchers on the roster in the postseason? You would have to choose between Ramos, McCann, and Stassi. Carrying all three means the loss of a position player or reliever, but that is a big risk to take in postseason play. However, we have to remember Stassi is out of options. So, does this fit the big picture?
When you look at acquiring Ramos versus J.T. Realmuto, you have to keep in mind what you are paying for. Realmuto is under team control until 2020, so you would have to give up a larger package. However, you would get two years of control. While Ramos will be cheaper, the Rays may be asking for more than the Astros are willing to give. The Astros are not just looking for a catcher for 2018, but also one for the next couple of years during their window.
All in all, the Astros are in a “wait and see’ situation with their catchers. Only time will tell if McCann returns healthy as expected. Garrett Stubbs could be an option should they decide not to make a trade. However, there is plenty to consider in making a deal for Ramos, or any other catcher on the market.
***Stats and Data courtesy of Sportrac, Baseball-Reference, and MLB.com***